This rare Sherlock Holmes film was released at the same time as the Raymond Massey picture "The Speckled Band". The story is partly based on two Conan Doyle short stories: "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House".
Sceptical about the potential success of the film, the producers sold the rights to the film to "First Division Pictures" for 800 pounds. The film was released in July 1931 under the title "Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour". It was very successful, running for over a month on Broadway, which was unprecidented for a British produced programmer.
This film was deemed lost when the only known print went missing after being shown at a Sherlock Holmes Society reception for Arthur Wontner in 1955. The version presented here is pieced together from two separate prints to create the longest and best quality version of the film. There are noticable differences between the two prints. The lesser quality print is only used to fill in minor sections that were missing or incomplete in the better quality version. It has the US title "Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour" on screen. The quality is still not optimal, but it is a major improvement from the versions previously available.
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July 13, 2019 Subject:
Holmes at His Best
The story is a bit of a mash-up of two Holmes stories, but the title say as much - so one can't quibble there. For a change, the pace of the tale was not hurried - and the dialogue and style of presentation - the building up of the case - was more like Conan Doyle's approach in his stories than the other early Holmes. Arthur Wontner gives his finest portrayal of Holmes and Ian Fleming is as steady as the slightly-foolish-in-his disbelief-of Holmes companion as he was in the other films. Minnie Rayner made a fine Mrs. Hudson. Norman McKinnel made an adequate Moriarity - not being called upon to be more than a droll suspect, with a disarmingly charming Irish accent and twinkle in his eye. Phillip Hewland played it straight as Inspector Lestrade - no humor, little personality. All the others were good in their parts. The whole thing builds nicely and suddenly the answers at the end of the trail are revealed.
December 7, 2013 Subject:
From the golden years when Actors acted mainly with their eyebrows, and Actresses with their necks. A very enjoyable romp through some plots of Conan-Doyle improved perhaps by some clever scripting.
July 20, 2013 Subject:
Ian Fleming saves the day
Others may downplay the role of Ian Fleming in this Sherlock Holmes classic. I felt that Fleming held the story together and made a very difficult and convoluted plot seem plausible. Truly a "must see" for Holmes fans. Fortunately it has been saved. Without it a rudimentary understanding of the Sherlock Holmes phenomenon would be very difficult to grasp and literally impossible to capture.
September 3, 2012 Subject:
This is not a fast paced film, and it has some flaws, but it held my interest in part because of its position in the history of film making. Note the stationary camera work and complete lack of outdoor shots. The actors are well trained and good at their craft, though I thought Dr Watson was a bit stiff. I guessed who Dr Moriarty was about 20 minutes in. However, I wanted to see how the tale unraveled. Given its historical context, I award this film 4 stars.
May 23, 2012 Subject:
I enjoyed the movie
Ok, the storyline was a tad weak but the acting was solid. I really enjoyed watching this mystery and loved the twists. This movie doesn't have the frantic pace of a modern show but it is all the better for it.
October 31, 2011 Subject:
Excellent Sherlock Holmes' Movie with Arthur Wontner
Excellent plot and acting. Arthur Wontner as Sherlock Holmes and Ian Fleming as Dr. Watson head a very strong cast. Arthur Wontner does as well or maybe even a little better than the other excellent actors playing Sherlock Holmes - hard to really tell. At any rate, enjoy this movie, which I consider a real gem!
July 9, 2011 Subject:
I've always read that in Britain Arthur Wontner is considered the consummate Sherlock Holmes. I didn't used to believe it but after seeing this and some of his other films I see what they mean. He is Holmes -- perhaps more than Rathbone or Brett. Definitely a must see!
October 10, 2010 Subject:
The title is apropos
Why does the Cardinal sleep? He must have tried to watch this movie. I did suffer through the entire film and found it to be dreary and slow.
Holmes concludes that a man found dead has been murdered. Watson believes it was a suicide. I do believe that had Holmes considered the possible embarrassment suffered by the victim over having been seen in this dreadfully awful movie, he might have agreed with Watson.